Theatre Review: Frankie And Johnny In the Claire de Lune

Frankie and Johnny are representative of everyone who has any memory of that first date that turns into the beginning of a lifetime commitment.


Presented by STARC Productions

Reviewed 10th October 2019

From its ecstatic opening to its charming and satisfying end, Terrence McNally’s Frankie And Johnny In The Claire de Lune has that undeniable energy that good writing has in the hands of good artists that allows an audience to fall effortlessly into the world it created. STARC Productions has been offering us mainly two hander plays for a couple of years now. Stefanie Rossi and Marc Clement have shown how much an actor can grow with the trust and freedom that is gained by working in an environment where their talents have been given the freedom to enhance the art of good storytelling.

Frankie and Johnny are representative of everyone who has any memory of that first date that turns into the beginning of a lifetime commitment. It is about excitement, fear, the risk of promises, pressing forward into the unknown and risking everything to achieve the impossible. What is remarkable is McNally’s ability to show us what happens to ordinary people. The writing is sharp, edgy, funny, filled with pathos, challenge, humility, stubbornness. All the things that go together to make a rounded human being. But, above all, it’s about courage. How much courage does a human being need to take a risk on someone else’s involvement in their life, especially if they have been burned before?

Clement shines as the hapless, yet charismatic, Johnny who has found his muse. The performance gives Clement the opportunity to mine his ever-growing skills. His emotional intelligence guides him through the gamut of emotions required to breathe life into Johnny’s character. He is one minute in the heaven of love and next in the depths of despair as he woos the mercurial Frankie. Rossi’s Frankie is sensitively and intelligently crafted by an actor in her element. The seamless emotional changes, the strident, defiant woman in fear of losing something she can’t quite put her finger on. It’s an interesting and dynamic performance from both of these gifted actors.

Tony Knight has enhanced the relationship of these two loveable oddballs with some very clever and dynamic direction. The set design (coyly credited to STARC Productions) is just right for 80’s New York. I love lighting you don’t notice because it fits seamlessly into the story; Stephen Dean’s lighting adds mood and energy into the work and supports the big emotional moments with care and sensitivity. The sound design is wonderfully supportive of the story (some things are, from memory, scripted) but there are a couple of moments of pure genius.

Another work from STARC Productions that adds to the high standard of work we have come to expect from this company. A night in the theatre that will have you laughing at the story and yourself and there are a couple moments that remind us how big life is however ordinary our lives are. Don’t miss it, good acting, good direction and excellent writing from one of America’s great writers.

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Venue:  Bakehouse Theatre

Season: 10th, 11th, 12th, 16th,17th 18th,19th October 8.00pm

Duration:  100 minutes (no interval)

Tickets: Adults $30, Students $20, Groups (6+) $26. Conc $26


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